Tinderbox User's Manual : Tinderbox Basics

Tinderbox Basics

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Tinderbox is a personal content assistant, a tool for making, analyzing, and sharing notes.

Notes are the basic units of writing and information in

Tinderbox. Each note has:

Notes live in Tinderbox documents. You must create a document before you create notes. You can create many Tinderbox documents, and individual Tinderbox documents can comfortably contain many thousands of notes. You can open several different Tinderbox documents at the same time.


Notes can contain other notes—this allows you to arrange notes in a hierarchy. A note that contains other notes is called a container. You could create chapters containing sections containing divisions; or topics containing subtopics; or any other hierarchy that fits your work.

You don’t need to create a hierarchy in your Tinderbox document—you can leave all the notes at the same level.


A link is a connection between one note and another. Links allow you to make connections between ideas, and to quickly move between linked notes. A link can lead from a note as a whole, or from selected text within a note (like linked text on the Web).

You can also create a link to a URL—an external document on the Internet. Following the link will open that location in your Web browser.


Most of what you do in Tinderbox takes place in two types of windows: note windows and view windows. A note window shows information about one particular note. A view window depicts some, or all, of the notes in the document; some of the document’s hierarchical structure; and possibly some of its links.

There are four types of note windows:

There are five types of of view windows:

You may keep many view windows, of whatever types, open while working in Tinderbox. They can show the same or different parts of your document.


A text window shows the text (and images) of one note and is where you write notes. You can have many text windows open at one time, each showing the text of a different note. (You can only have one text window open on a particular note at one time.)

You can type in a text window, paste or drag text into it, paste or drag an image into it, copy text or an image from it, and drag text or an image out of it.


Almost all the time when you are in a view window you will see one of three cursors:

The hand cursor

Click-and-drag with the hand cursor to move the view in the window. This is usually more convenient than using the scroll bars, which can also move the view.

The marquee cursor

Click-and-drag with the marquee cursor to select all of the notes within or partially within that area.

The arrow cursor

Any cursor becomes the arrow cursor when it is over a note. Use this to select, drag, or double-click a note.

Switching cursors

Select either the hand cursor or the marquee cursor from the toolbar. When the hand cursor is active, hold down option to temporarily switch to the marquee cursor, and vice versa.


In all view windows, both notes and the background of the view have contextual menus associated with them, listing common actions to perform with that note or in that context. Click-and-hold or ctrl-click a note or over the background to see the contextual menu. Notes in lists of notes also have contextual menus, and other portions of Tinderbox may have them as well. The contents of the contextual menus depends on many factors, such as where you click, what you're doing, and what you've already done.

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[Last updated: 26 Jul 2009]

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